Grief over Beef

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Grief over Beef

Nurul Islam Laskar | April 13, 2019 14:08 hrs


The incident in which 68-year-old Shaukat Ali was mobbed by anti-socials and forced to eat pork in Biswanath District of Assam on Sunday, April 7, is truly unprecedented in the annals of the state. I am yet to come across any country anywhere in the world where people are punished for eating a particular item of food although such instances may be there in some parts of India and this is of recent origin. During my stint with the State Bank of India stretching over three decades, I was posted in different states of the northeast. I have had friends sitting by my side eating pork or dog meat, and it was not an issue at all.


In 2010, my wife and I went for Haj. Even in a conservative country like Saudi Arabia, when we visited a mall in Jeddah, we found an enclosure selling pork. Only a board saying “Not for Muslims” at the entrance warned the faithful not to venture over there! In 2014, I had accompanied a delegation from the northeast that visited five southern states of India to get a feel of some educational institutions there. One late night, we went into a roadside eatery in Chennai to have our dinner. The menu was hung up on the wall and it had the portraits of different Hindu deities on the top. To my utter surprise, I found that beef was also included there! Well, that’s what makes “Incredible India!”
 

In college, I was a student of biology and we had a chapter on “food cycle.” In short, the deer is herbivorous and it eats grass. The tiger is carnivorous and it eats the deer. Man is omnivorous and it eats almost everything. This is natural law. I pray and hope that biology is not reinvented by political dispensations now.


What is more important is that self-styled goons should not decide who should eat what and what not. According to IndiaSpendData, over 150 people have been lynched by so called gau-rakshaks in the country during the last five years. Fortunately, this menace remained confined mostly to the cow-belt of north and central India. Southern India and northeast were more or less not touched by it. Now it looks like the virus has penetrated our state. The antidote needs to be administered right away if we want to preserve the age-old spirit of love and brotherhood for which Assam is known all over.


Please take note of the fact that India is the biggest exporter of beef in the world and has maintained its top position ever since 2014. So, all this drama in the name of beef is nothing but farce. Furthermore, the NSSO (National Sample Survey Office) statistics of 2015 proclaims that one out of every 13 Indians consumes either beef or buffalo meat. Therefore, one section of the population should not impose its own food habits on another section of the population. The cow belt, however, is notorious for its efforts to force the rest of the country to follow their dictums. At their insistence, in 1965, the central government had passed orders making Hindi the sole official language of the country. There were such massive oppositions, agitations and riots, following this order, in south India that it changed Indian politics forever. The government had to rescind its orders. Same kind of agitation and revolt is not unlikely if the government tries to impose the North Indian menu in every kitchen of India.


All this however does not mean that Muslims should not show any respect for the belief of many Hindus who consider the cow as their deity. On one hand, the Muslim must keep in mind that eating beef is not an integral requirement of faith and secondly, even if they want to consume beef, there need not be any fanfare or public display over it. Each religion must learn to respect the tenets of the others.
It’s heartening that a large number of people, irrespective of faith, have come forward to condemn the Biswanath incident. Medha Saikia, the pioneer fashion diva of Assam, wrote in her Facebook post, “Our Assam was never like this. We have never seen so much of hatred, anger, and aggressiveness among our people.” True Medha, we want a stop to this. 


While law will take its own course to punish the culprits, my suggestion is that on the occasion of Bihu, the parents and teachers of the misguided youth come together to offer one day’s compulsory community service by cleaning the toilets and compounds of local naamghars to create awareness in the society for the need to uphold love and humanity at all costs. Even the civil society can participate in this initiative.
My last words, “Let’s meet as friends, let not meat come in the way!”


Nurul Islam Laskar is a motivation speaker and public relations consultant. Email me at: nurul.laskar@gmail.com

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